Charlottesville Area Cultural Plan in the Works

January 17, 2013

The Charlottesville area is getting its first cultural plan. Piedmont Council for the Arts is launching a planning process Thursday, and organizers are giving the community a chance to help sketch the future of the area's art and cultural sector.

The "Create Charlottesville" initiative kicks off Thursday with a public meeting at CitySpace at noon. A 27-member steering committee that includes leaders from within and outside the art sector will help create the plan, along with feedback from surveys with hundreds of community members in the coming months.

"Arts and culture is something we see every day here in Charlottesville," said Maggie Guggenheimer, PCA's consultant for research and planning. "It touches our lives in lots of different ways. Even if you don't create art, you still participate in it, and it enhances the community we live in."

Guggenheimer says the art and cultural sector encompasses everything from fine arts and non-profits to historical and heritage organizations like Monticello and has a broad range of impact, including the economy.

"Artists in this community and everywhere are small business people. They're very passionate about their work. They're skilled. They're committed to it and they're making a living off of it," she said. "We need to have a community that supports that kind of enterprise."

Vivian Stein is a local artist who has turned her passion into a business. She's owned "Vivian's Art to Wear, Art for Living" in Charlottesville for 15 years. She says strengthening the art and cultural sector is good for jobs.

"It increases employment in our area to use our home grown things for sale, things you can use, things you can hang on your wall," Stein said. "We've got performers, we've got directors, we've got all sorts of people as part of the local economy."

Aside from economic development, Guggenheimer says the planning process will address tourism interests, quality of life and collaboration between art organizations, among other topics.

The final cultural plan will be presented to the community in January 2014.

PCA has received financial support from the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau to fund the planning process.

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